As more and more travelers from around the globe discover the beauty of Panama, your options for fully guided all inclusive Panama tour companies have also increased.
And, while many people vacation in Panama to explore this country’s Spanish colonial heritage or to enjoy world-class resorts, white sandy beaches and rainforest tours, Panama’s man-made wonders like the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake remain as some of most popular Panama tourist attractions.
On your fully guided Caravan Panama tour, you will have a chance to explore many of these exceptional man-made wonders.
#1 – Gatun Lake Panama – 164 sq. miles
Completed in 1913, it took engineers six years to build the Gatun Dam across the valley floor. Gatun Dam is just six miles inland from the Caribbean Sea on the Atlantic side of Panama. At the time, Gatun Dam was the world’s largest dam, blocking off the Chagres River to create what was then the world’s largest man-made lake, Gatun Lake.
Water from Gatun Lake is integral to the operation of Gatun Locks, a major part of the Panama Canal project.
Ships passing through the Panama Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans travel approximately 15 miles across Gatun Lake. Canal ships must traverse around man-made islands; remnants of the flooded surrounding hilltops. One of these islands is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research, a privately funded institute.
#2 – 48 mile Panama Canal Connects Atlantic & Pacific Oceans
Gatun Lake is a man-made lake and part of the Panama Canal, Panama’s largest man-made tourist attraction and an engineering marvel. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. Cargo ships and pleasure craft (15,000+ annually) that want to travel between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean no longer have to journey for weeks and over 5,000 miles around the tip of South America. Instead, they can traverse approximately 50 miles in a matter of hours across Gatun Lake and through the Panama Canal’s three sets of locks.
#3 – Gamboa & Pipeline Road Trail Panama
The Gamboa Panama area was once a key stop on the gold trail during Spanish occupation. The town of Gamboa was established in 1911 as part of the Panama Canal project and is located in the original Canal Zone. Gamboa’s first inhabitants were employees of the Panama Canal construction.
Hidden by lush rainforests, Gamboa Panama is now a popular destination for biologists, zoologists and bird-watchers because of its thriving animal and plant populations. In fact, Pipeline Road is widely known for its bird species. The Pipeline Road Trail is used for guided tours that take visitors into some of the most highly regarded bird-watching locations in the world.
Gamboa has also become a favorite starting point for avid fishermen who want to try their luck on Gatun Lake. The Rainforest Resort offers excellent accommodations in this beautiful region.
#4 – 5,425 Ft. Bridge of the Americas Panama
Our Caravan Panama Canal tour also includes a canal cruise beneath the Bridge of the Americas. This is a “must see” man-made bridge for vehicle traffic. The Americas Bridge name is derived from the fact that it connects the North American landmass with the South American landmass. Bridge of the Americas took three years to build, is over a mile wide, and was completed in 1962. In fact, it actually crosses part of the Pacific Ocean at the Panama Canal entrance near Panama City, the capital.
#5 – 3,451 Ft. Panama Centennial Bridge
Completed in 2004, Panama’s Centennial Bridge is another impressive man-made structure, spanning nearly 3,500 feet. Earlier Panama bridges across the Chagres River were built to swing out of the way of the large ships that passed through the canal. Both the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge are elevated, non-swinging bridge designs. The Centennial Bridge addressed the need for a new companion bridge to ease the volume of traffic across the Bridge of the Americas.
Panama Canal Tour by Caravan
Family owned and operated Caravan Tours has been conducting North and Central American fully guided tours since 1952.
As part of your all inclusive Panama vacation, Caravan includes a guided Panama Canal cruise across Gatun Lake plus a chance to witness some of the other Panama man-made wonders mentioned in this article. These are some of Central America’s most impressive man-made structures and major Panama tourist attractions!
Caravan Panama tours are exceptionally priced, fully escorted vacations that also include all ground transportation, tour activities, meals, and hotel accommodations. Visit Caravan’s Panama tour reservations page to check tour availability or visit our Panama Canal Tour page
Call us today toll free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve the best dates for your all inclusive Caravan Panama Canal tour!
(Editor’s Note – This original December 2015 blog post has been revised to reflect current Caravan Panama tours.)